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Andy Gardiner calls for meeting on Medicaid funding options

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Senate President Andy Gardiner has scheduled a Tuesday workshop for senators to brush up on the Medicaid issues that have brought the session to a standstill.

In a Friday memo to senators, Gardiner said he asked Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Lee to use the first portion of his all-day meeting to discuss Low Income Pool and that Senate professional staff discuss with members the “potential funding scenarios and implications for their constituents.”

Gardiner said in the memo that the meeting will include a “brief history and summary of the issues” surrounding LIP and Medicaid as well as background on the Senate’s proposal.

“We will include time for public testimony to enable Senators to hear from the people who will be impacted by our decisions on these issues,” Gardner wrote in the memo.

The Appropriations Committee is slated to meet 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Tuesday.

Low Income Pool is money from Medicaid used to help hospitals treat uninsured patients and help fund qualified health centers, Medicaid HMOs and graduate medical education. It is funded mostly through local funding, called intergovernmental transfers, and federal money but also has general revenue.

As negotiations between the state and federal government over the continuation of LIP have deteriorated. Gov. Rick Scott made clear early on this Session that he did not intend to supplement the loss of any federal funding with additional state general revenue. He sent a letter to that effect to the Obama administration in early March.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Thursday followed the governor’s lead noting to reporters in a media availability that he did not intend to backfill the program with state revenue.

“We are not interested in backfilling LIP dollars that have been provided from Washington to those Low Income Pool folks in the state,” Crisafulli said. “The safety net hospitals should be beating on the doors of CMS to get them to take care of their issues.”

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